A better iOS app switcher

You know the app switcher in iOS? Double tap the home button and up pops a tray with the last used apps. Swipe once to the right and you’ll get some hidden music controls. Swipe to the left enough and you’ll find apps you didn’t even know you ever used.

There are a few problems with the current app switching.

  • The very useful music controls are hidden. To reach them you need to double tap and swipe left. Most people don’t even know that it exist.
  • Closing apps isn’t really necessary, but when you do want to close something quickly it’s a hassle.
  • Icons aren’t the most useful way to identify an app and you can’t see the state in which you left the app.

I had some ideas about how to improve the current implementation. So here’s a quick mock-up.

  • You still launch the app switcher by double tapping the home button. The app zooms out and this screen appears.
  • You exit it by pressing the home button once (or twice).
  • Music controls are permanently displayed at the bottom. Himitsu no more!
  • Apps are represented by both a thumbnail of the last state and the app icon. This way it’s easy to recognize an app.
  • You can scroll to all “open” apps by using the cover flow mechanics (which finally *really* is useful for something).
  • The app icons scroll along with cover flow.
  • Closing an app can be done by swiping an app to the top of the screen (yes, a WebOS homage).
  • Tap a thumbnail or icon to zoom right into the app.
  • Knowing a bit about how iOS works you will sometimes probably get a slightly greyed out screen with a spinner while the OS loads all the data for the state in which you left the app.
  • The linen is not great, but it’s what Apple seems to love, so I used it.

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